The 2020 NFL season is simply a month previous and the Texans are already seeking to the longer term following the firing of Bill O’Brien.
O’Brien final week was relieved of his duties because the staff’s head coach and normal supervisor after an 0-4 begin, which a collection of questionable personnel strikes.
Only one staff, the 1992 Chargers, has began 0-4 and gone on to make the playoffs, that means the Texans are doubtless taking part in for satisfaction beneath interim head coach Romeo Crennel.
Jack Easterby has taken on the GM position in an interim capability, however what is going to O’Brien’s long-term alternative within the entrance workplace have on his docket?
Here we have a look at the duties that await the brand new GM within the 2021 offseason.
Replace DeAndre Hopkins
O’Brien’s choice to commerce Hopkins for a second-round decide this yr, a 2021 fourth-rounder and operating again David Johnson was a transfer that performed a major position in sealing his destiny.
While quarterback Deshaun Watson’s play has not actually dropped off with out Hopkins — his 8.5-yards-per-attempt common by 4 video games is the best of his profession — the Texans’ offense is predictably worse off with out the All-Pro broad receiver.
The Texans had been 52-42 in video games with Hopkins and at the moment are 0-6 with out him. They averaged 22.1 factors within the 94 video games Hopkins performed for the franchise, however have put up simply 17.8 factors per recreation minus his companies.
DeAndre Hopkins aligned on the left facet on 34 of 40 routes (85%) in his #Cardinals debut in Kingsbury’s Air Raid offense.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) September 14, 2020
Hopkins helped the Texans rack up 343.8 complete yards per recreation throughout his time in Houston, with their manufacturing in that regard dropping to 304.3 yards per recreation when he has not featured.
As one of many recreation’s high younger quarterbacks, Watson can masks loads of the Texans’ failings, however the affect of shedding a receiver of Hopkins’ caliber was at all times going to be important. They should restore the injury from a useless commerce subsequent offseason.
Shore up the safety
Another of O’Brien’s headline strikes was the 2019 deal for left deal with Laremy Tunsil, which noticed Houston ship two first-round picks, a second-rounder and a pair of gamers to the Dolphins.
Tunsil, broadly thought to be one of many league’s high gamers on the place, was signed to a three-year, $66 million extension in April. Yet the numbers counsel the Texans’ offensive line has really declined since his arrival.
Indeed, between 2014 and 2018 the Texans rushed for 120.2 yards a recreation (fifth within the NFL) and gave up a median of 2.63 sacks (twenty fourth within the NFL).
Since 2019, nevertheless, the Texans’ rush yardage common has dipped to 115.2 (fifteenth), whereas they’re conceding 3.25 sacks per recreation (thirty first).
Tunsil can also be probably the most penalized participant within the league since 2019, having been flagged 16 occasions. Yet it’s unlikely the Texans will surrender on a participant in whom they’ve invested a lot, each financially and by way of draft capital.
The problem for whoever is operating the Texans within the offseason is to establish the important thing weaknesses within the trenches and guarantee Watson has the safety to understand his MVP potential.
Reverse the defensive decline
The 2019 offseason additionally noticed the commerce of Jadeveon Clowney to the Seahawks.
Clowney, the primary total decide in 2014, has by no means fairly lived as much as his billing as a go rusher, however the dropoff by the Texans’ protection following his exit has been stark.
Between 2014 and 2018, the Texans ranked within the high 10 within the NFL in opponents’ factors per recreation (21.3), opponents’ complete yards per recreation (329.9), opponents’ rush yards per recreation (99.3) and opponents’ passing yards per recreation (230.6).
In the 20 regular-season video games they’ve performed because the begin of the 2019 marketing campaign, the Texans have allowed opponents to common 25.6 factors, 389.3 complete yards, 133.2 speeding yards and 256.1 passing yards. They rank within the backside half of the league in all 4 classes.
Whether Clowney would have prevented that decline is open for debate however, with J.J. Watt struggling to remain wholesome lately, this can be a protection that lacks difference-makers — one thing that should be addressed in 2021.
Acquire draft capital
The record of duties for the Texans’ subsequent normal supervisor is prolonged, however O’Brien’s alternative in that position will be unable to reach repairing the roster with out including draft picks.
Perhaps probably the most damaging results of O’Brien’s tenure as personnel chief is the shortage of picks he has left them.
The Texans wouldn’t have a decide in both of the primary two rounds of the 2021 draft because of their commerce with the Dolphins, which seems notably pricey given their first-round decide can be fourth total if the season ended now.
Houston must complement an getting old and — outdoors of Watson — mediocre roster with premium younger expertise. The greatest manner to try this is to amass picks.
After the mess O’Brien has left them, it would take some artistic roster reconstruction from his successor to place the Texans in rivalry for a primary NFL title.